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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

44th Stop: Pioneer Presybterian Church Welcomes the Peace Quilt

Postcards cover the Mother Quilt; Lura holds the smaller version before passing it to the congregation to examine closely.

"Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they will become the Children of God."
"You have to be carefully be peacemakers."
"Pass the peace please."
"Send a million visions-of-peace postcards to Oprah."
"Listen to the children's visions."
"My vision of peace is that middle schoolers will remind adults about the peace they may have forgotten."
"What is your vision of peace?"
"What will you DO with your particular vision of peace?"

For one year, those words encapsulating the purpose of the quilt's trip have been spread wherever I was invited to share the stories of middle school peacemakers. I have been journeying "around the world" with the butterfly peace quilt designed and created by Chuck and Carol Vanlue since last June. (Their version of a vision-of-peace postcard, if you will.) I have gone from women's groups to churches to civic groups, libraries, peace groups, a peace garden, coffee shops, bakeries, people's homes, weddings, schools in different cities, states and countries. I have carried blank postcards addressed to Oprah inviting all ages to join the one million postcard goal. I'm beginning to sense closure even though three more months have been added to the timeframe.

The year draws closer to an end in Russia next month and in England on the Prime Meridian in September. At last, the quilt will come home to the city of the American Nobel Laureate Peace Park in Eugene, Oregon. What will happen to the quilt? Don't know yet.

The Last Two Coming Final Attractions in Eugene:

1. A parade. The quilt will be marched through the community while "raising the roof" for peace on August 28. (If you are interested in joining a diverse group of walking peacemakers, let me know. Kids are welcome.)

2. A Unique Celebration called Seven Days in the Circle of Peace. This arts event at the Shedd will highlight varied visions of peace from amazing people of all ages for one week. Something different every night. These amazing presentations are being orchestrated by one super human being. She will help to tie up my teacher's promise with a lovely ribbon and I thank her. I will have fulfilled what I said I would do. AND Marcee Long will be joining me in birthing her own adult vision of peace. I remember the quiet night at the library when she heard me talk about the butterfly peace quilt. I asked her to help me hold one side of it for the small audience so that they could see the attached children's visions of peace cards to be sent to Oprah. Marcee clearly understood its connection to the locally developing American Nobel Peace Park also. It took her three months to respond to my questions afterwards: "What is your vision of peace?" "Would you want to write a play?"

Her vision: "Peace begins at home." Stay tuned.

Now to Stop 44 on June 13. I was thrilled by the authentic welcoming of the Burns, Oregon Presbyterian Church congregation. Cordial. Inviting. Real. Picture people opening their hearts and minds to children's visions of peace as guidance for their own actions. These folks epitomize the opposite of what I call the Cheshire-cat fake grinners and the cold shoulder maneuverers in life, those people who simply don't get the importance of hospitality.

Pastor Jean Hurst is on sabbatical so John, my husband, and I were invited to give sermons on two of the Sundays of her leave. John talked about grace one week; I talked about peace the next.

If anyone wants to settle in with a small church whose members understand peace, openness, and acceptance of differences, drop in some Sunday morning on your way across a vast desert in Eastern Oregon.

OPRAH, where are you? You'd be welcome there too.

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